Raising children brings with it joy and hope, concern and trepidation. As they say, there is no handbook for being a parent. Raising a child with special needs can compound the worries and leave a parent feeling unsure of their footing. And while I believe strongly that every family benefits from education, I know how essential it can be to parents who have children with special needs. Parent education, particularly when a therapist works with an individual or couple, provides incredible support and truly strengthens a family. Parent education has a positive impact on a child’s developmental outcome and improves a parent’s sense of well-being. When a parent feels taken care of, they can better take care of their children.
Here are some of the many benefits of parent education for families of children with special needs.
- Better understand your child’s current level of development. A parent educator can go over current reports, as well as any concerns a parent may have about techniques, relationships, goals, etc.
- Related Services-Updates from related services can be coordinated by a parent educator, allowing a parent to have better communication with their child’s therapists
- Examine your own feelings about your child’s special needs. Think about what fears hold you back from supporting your child’s growth. How are your connections to others? Are you maintaining supportive relationships outside your home? What strengths allow you to be proactive and advocate for your child?
- Acknowledge and celebrate your child’s strength. Learn how to use these skills and your child’s interests to motivate them in other areas of their lives.
- Learn new techniques for managing your child’s behavior and supporting your child through his or her challenges
- Parent educators can help to create and facilitate a support group with other parents who have children with special needs. The parent educator will help each member get the most of out of meetings. These groups encourage parents to support each other, discuss challenges, and celebrate their children’s successes.
- Consider your own needs. Create a schedule and use time management techniques to allow for meeting those needs.
- Parent educators support the home-school relationship. They can help both parties insure consistency between the two environments.
- Understand and support the relationship between typically developing siblings and those with special needs.
- Discuss and create a plan that has you and your spouse parenting on the same page. Consistency is key for all children.
This list could easily go on and many of the benefits are also true for parents whose children are typically developing. From time to time, all parents need tips, education and a hug for reassurance. When choosing a parent educator, think about your goals and look in to their specific areas of expertise, as these can vary widely. Areas of focus can include marriage relationships, sibling relationships, behavior work, daily living skills, support for parents whose children have been recently diagnosed, or groups. Not every relationship with a parent educator will be a match. If the first one you meet doesn’t feel comfortable for you, try someone else. The ability to be candid and intimate with a parent educator will greatly impact what you take out of your sessions. We’re here to help.
empowered parents, happy families.